Friday, October 15, 2010

Chicken with Bumblefoot - warning not for the squeamish

What the heck is wrong with my chickens foot?! Is she growing a new toe, why is she limping, hmm she's holding her foot up, Why?

I spend time with my chickens each day but I obviously don't pay attention to their feet (lesson learned). All the girls seem happy and healthy but I had no idea something was festering on the bottom of Dragon's foot.

Dragon is a year and half old Red Star hen.
A few days ago I was asking my self the very questions above.
Upon close inspection of her foot I knew something was wrong but what and how do I fix it without spending a fortune taking her to a vet.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of her foot, I really wish I had because I know it would be helpful to other backyard chicken friends.

Here's what I saw:
Dragon had a large scab like abscess on the top of her foot and her foot was swollen.
On the bottom of the foot was the source of her discomfort, a 3mm sized black flat scab.

My first instinct was wanting to pick off the abscess, which is what I ended up doing but not until I had my Country Girl-friend take a look.

I knew this wasn't something I should jump into on my own.

When Country Girl first saw Dragon she said "Why didn't you take care of this a long time ago"

Yes, I'm a bad chicken mommy, I didn't notice it.
Really, I feel awful saying that.

Country Girls instinct was the same as mine, she yanked the abscess off.
Maybe we should have sanitized the affected area first but we Are in the country

Ok, YOU should clean the chickens foot prior to performing this surgery that ended up taking almost 2 hours!

my disclaimer
This entire procedure was a learn as you go experience for me.
If you find yourself in this same position I suggest you follow your chicken mommy (or daddy) instincts and do what is best for you and your chicken. You will find a lot of helpful information about bumblefoot on the web, research before you start or as you go along, like I did.

supplies needed:
paper towels
vet wrap
scalpel or needle
warm water
epsom salt
antibiotic ointment/solution (i.e. neosporin, betadin)

Here's the nitty gritty of what we did and some really gross pictures for those of you that like that stuff.

* to help the chicken relax, wrap her in a towel covering her head and body
leaving the injured foot exposed
* lay her on her side on your lap

bumble foot surgery

* soak chickens foot in a warm water epsom salt solution
* remove abscess from top of foot
* puss may be under the abscess or it may be deeper but this is only the beginning
* using a sanitized scalpel or needle start to remove the bumble from the bottom of the foot
* carefully scrap away the hard bumble from the good tissue
* use tweezers as you go along to pull out chunks

the first part of this will be hard and scab like, under that
is a condensed puss root (I have no other better way to describe it)
you need to remove all of this and yes it is deep and there can be a lot

bumble foot surgery

Several of these condensed puss roots were removed.
Each time one was removed you could feel her foot pad getting softer.
We knew we were getting the source of her problem out.

bumble foot surgery

bumble foot surgery

bumble foot surgery

bumble foot surgery

Like I mentioned it took a long time to do this.
We soaked her foot a couple times to help soften the bumble during the procedure.
In my opinion, Dragon was relaxed, she rarely tried to pull her foot away.

When we were sure we removed all the bumble we soaked her foot in another epsom salt bath and dried her foot completely.
The only ointment I had was neosporin.
We applied a generous amount to the top and bottom of her foot.
I also did not have vet wrap so I used gauze and medical/bandage tape to wrap her foot.

look at this great wrap job

Surgery complete - foot wrapped

Here she was right after the surgery

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

Here she is the morning after

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot - life back to normal

This morning I removed the her gauze bandage

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

I put betadine on the top and bottom of the wound.
Put new gauze on the wounds and wrapped the foot in vet wrap.

Red Star recovering from Bumble Foot

My goal is to keep her foot dry and clean.
I will change her bandage at least once a day and apply antibiotic ointment or solution to fend off bacteria and help her foot heal.

**What I've learned
bumblefoot is caused by small wounds or injury to the chickens foot. This could be from stepping on a thorn or nail also from a chicken jumping off high places causing bruising that can result in the bumble. The bumble starts out on the bottom of the foot eventually causing swelling.
Left un-noticed (like mine) an abscess will form on the top of the foot, usually between the toes. If the bumble is not treated the chicken may eventually die from infection.
After treating the abscess it can return if the entire bumble has not been removed.

Visit my flickr account for additional photos and check back for bumble foot updates.



dominique said...

you totally loved performing this surgery. i know it.

One Boy One Girl Boutique said...

It was right up my alley but I felt really bad for Dragon. I hope it heals and Never comes back.